The Parents and Citizens Association of Red Hill Primary had big plans to celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary this year – but then COVID happened.
However, the Red Hill Primary School community prides itself on its innovation and, thanks to a slew of talented students, parents and alumni, its rich history has been captured in a book, Open hearts, Inquiring minds: Celebrating 60 years of Red Hill Primary School.
The author, Emma Campbell, a former journalist, former Australian War Memorial historian and mum of two current Red Hill students, put out the word for former staff and students to participate in the project.
Emma said she received a great number of responses which were collated into the history of the campus and the evolutions in uniforms, fashions, canteen products and sporting, arts, and excursion programs.
“They told us about all the aspects of life that make up primary school,” she said.
The historical document contains personal reflections about favourite teachers, subjects and memories.
Emma said one of the most memorable aspects of the book was learning how the teachers influenced their students and helped them to find their passions.
“The teachers had really gone above and beyond to provide great opportunities to the students,” she said.
“It was touching to know the impact they had. And it was a fantastic thing to be able to record and learn about.”
Emma said while there were plenty of funny stories to sift through, her favourite was a school excursion to Lake Mungo gone awry when two students were left behind at Narrandera.
“The bus went on without them, the police ran the students on to Wagga (Wagga), but the bus just kept going and their parents had to come and collect them.”
Emma said she learned how innovative the school had been, as far back as the late 1960s, when they introduced a “teacherless class” aimed at self-directed learning.
“The teacher would come in at the start of the day for around 15 minutes and give the students an idea of what they should work on for the day and then leave them to their own devices.”
Red Hill Primary continued to push real-life learning and culturally appropriate programs throughout the decades including delivering a reconciliation plan, the formation of the Deadly Boomerangs, pursuing continued cultural understanding of Ngunnawal people and the Wassa Wassa, a West African percussion group.
The current cohort of students were able to compete for the back-cover art with their own picture depicting their love of their school.
Emma’s husband and Walkley Award winning cartoonist Pat Campbell designed the front cover.
Fellow P & C members helped Emma with research, and a parent/employee at the National Library of Australia was on hand to dig through the school archives.
Emma said the school tentacles reached far and wide.
“We have so many clever, intelligent, expert people and so to be able to draw on their efforts and expertise has been really useful,” she said.
“I would love for all the former students to have a copy and reflect on what a great school it is.
“We like to think it’s a really lovely souvenir in what’s been a really challenging year.”
Open hearts, Inquiring minds: Celebrating 60 years of Red Hill Primary School is on sale at the Red Hill supermarket for $19; all proceeds go back to the school.